The show further humanizes the plights and life story of its titular subject
By Jonathan Pabico, Senior Columnist
Rebecca Breeds more than proves herself as a worthy follow-up to Jodie Foster’s portrayal of the character.
If you’re looking for a new crime-drama series to settle into for the new year, then Clarice is definitely a viable option. This spin-off to the iconic psychological thriller, The Silence of the Lambs, is part of Global’s 2021 Winter Lineup and premiered February 11 on Thursday.
The story takes place a year after the events of the film. We find titular FBI agent Clarice Starling (Rebecca Breeds) in therapy. There, she unpacks her trauma from ending the crime spree of serial killer Buffalo Bill. Starling is soon called into action to help solve another gruesome murder case.
The show’s premiere doesn’t waste any time with its direction and set-up. The script gives Breeds’ Starling enough background to see just how isolated and haunted she still feels from the horrors of Bill’s murders. The episode is nicely paced and has grounded world-building as we watch the series’ titular protagonist immediately thrown into the plot’s events unprepared.
The first entry is easy to get invested in because it has tons of True Detective vibes. The show has a bleak and ardent atmosphere—and the disturbing crime scenes and Starling’s tense dynamics with other agents highlights this. The use of slow aerial camera movements and sound design from natural settings convey a dreadful sense of timelessness for the grim visuals.
As for Breeds, she did a stellar job in the lead role. Her performance perfectly captures Starling’s struggles with her past, animosity with her agency, and her newfound celebrity from the media. The editing of tight camera shots with extreme close-ups of her working the case in each eerie location reflects how consumed she is by her trauma, and how that disconnects her from reality. She more than proves herself as a worthy follow-up to Jodie Foster’s portrayal of the character.
Breeds also has good chemistry with her supporting cast, especially with Lucca De Oliveira as agent Esquivel and The Walking Dead’s Michael Cudlitz as stoic agent Paul Krendler. Her scenes with female characters could’ve been explored more, for example with Jayne Atkinson as Ruth Martin. No spoilers, but they have a history that could’ve been developed a bit further, even if their bond is most likely to be unraveled in the future.
If you want more context for Starling’s history, you’ll need to watch the original movie. Otherwise, the story is still accessible enough to follow her latest descent into a serial killer case. Still, with so many gritty detective dramas out there already—like FBI and Criminal Minds—Clarice might feel generic to fans of the genre.
The show stands out considerably though with a premiere that sets up its titular hero with immersive direction and an excellent performance from Rebecca Breeds as agent Starling. Overall, Clarice has much promise as a new crime drama to tune into for 2021.